The crown jewel of Ashok Bajaj's restaurant collection is this gorgeously lit Penn Quarter dining room--easily the area's best Indian restaurant and unlike any other in the crowded field. Anchoring chef Vikram Sunderam's menu are first-rate renditions of familiar curry-house stews--lamb rogan josh, chicken tikka masala--but nearly everything else is unexpected.
The bread called kulcha is stuffed with goat cheese, the cocktail list includes a riff on a Dark and Stormy made with butternut squash, and tandoori-cooked meats are joined by kebabs and fish from the tawa griddle. The famed palak chaat--fried leaves of spinach zigzagged with yogurt and tamarind--is a winner, but on one visit it was eclipsed by a more unusual veggie dish: lentil-flour-and-cabbage cakes in a stunning yogurt sauce flecked with mustard seeds.
What to get: Ragda patties, potato cakes with tamarind-date-and-mint chutney; avocado and banana with date chutney; black cod marinated in honey, dill, star anise, and vinegar; mint paratha, the spiraled bread.
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive.